SINGAPORE: Based on the most recent data from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), there are fewer and fewer taxi rides hailed on the streets of Singapore these days, in part because there are fewer taxicabs.
Taxis are the only vehicles allowed to accept bookings from individuals who hail them on the street. Private vehicles for hire require other means of booking.
LTA’s latest figures say that among the total of point-to-point trips taken in November 2023, 12 per cent had been street-hailed. This is 10 per cent lower than in January 2021, when LTA started providing this specific data.
The Straits Times said in a Feb 9 report that while there had been 129,000 cab rides per day hailed from the streets in January 2021, this number had dwindled to 77,000 by November of last year.
In contrast, the number of rides booked via phone call rose from 85,000 per day in 2021 to 100,000 a day last year.
The figures reflect the smaller number of taxis in Singapore at present. In 2014, before the emergence of ride-hailing companies such as Grab and GoTo, there were 28,736 cabs, the highest number in the country’s history.
By January 2021, there were 15,888 taxis left, and that number fell to 13,622 in November of last year.
Private-hire cars, meanwhile have gone up from 614 in 2013 to 53,448 last year. As of November 2023, they made up 70 per cent of 616,000 point-to-point rides, up from 63 per cent of the 576,000 daily rides in January 2021.
For commuters, booking a cab via mobile apps is easier and more convenient than it’s ever been before, and the system also works for drivers, as ride-hailing often gives them higher fares.
The ST report about the drop in numbers for street-hailed taxi rides has gotten a lot of attention online, getting nearly a hundred comments on the newspaper’s Facebook page.
One popular comment focused on taxi drivers being choosy about whom they give a ride to, claiming that some even “hide before peak surcharge kicks in.”
Several commenters expressed concerns over a related topic—the age of the cab drivers themselves. One said they’ve seen cabbies who “look frail” and have a “problem getting in and out of their taxis.”
Others say they’ve tried to flag taxis on the street with the green light indicating the cab is empty, but drivers refuse or change the status.
“Just recently, I flagged down a cab. From afar I saw it was green. Upon nearing, the driver changed it to BUSY not sure the reason, which I assume bcos I have an infant on hand. So picky and choosy, people will rather book via phone than to do street hail,” wrote one. /TISG